Activists Disrupt White House's Pro-Coal Panel At Bonn Climate Summit

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By Dharna Noor The Real News Network – The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is in full swing in Bonn, Germany and all eyes are now on the US, now the only country in the world to reject the Paris Climate Accord. In Bonn on Monday, the Trump administration held a presentation they called “The Role of Cleaner and More Efficient Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power in Climate Mitigation”. The presentation sought to pose coal, natural gas and nuclear energy as the solutions to the climate crisis. Climate activists disrupted the panel during opening remarks. Joining us to talk a little bit about the Trump administration’s Bonn panel, for the first time in our studio in Baltimore, is Steve Horn. Steve is a research fellow for Desmog.com and a freelance investigative journalist. His writing has appeared in Al Jazeera America, The Intercept, The Guardian, Vice News, The Young Turks Project: TYT Investigates and many others. Thanks for being here today, Steve. STEVE HORN: Good to finally be here. Thanks for having me. DHARNA NOOR: So, today during George David Banks opening remarks on this Trump administration panel, climate activists came in, they disrupted, they started singing songs. Talk a little bit about him and generally about this panel pushing clean coal and nuclear power as solutions to climate change.

Fossil Fuel Emissions Set To Hit All-Time High In 2017 As Coal Burning Increases

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By Alexander C. Kaufman for The Huffington Post – Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are surging again after staying flat for three years, climate scientists reported on Monday, a sign that efforts to rein in planet-warming gases still have a long way to go. Emissions from fossil fuels and industrial uses are projected to grow 2 percent this year, reaching 41 billion tons by the end of 2017, according to the report presented at the United Nations’ climate summit in Bonn, Germany. The increase was predicted to continue in 2018. Total greenhouse gas emissions remained level, at about 36 billion tons per year from 2014 to 2016, even as the global economy grew, which suggested carbon dioxide emissions had crested with the rise of renewable electricity sources and improved fuel efficiency standards. But emissions from fossil fuels will hit 37 billion tons this year, a report from the Global Carbon Project finds. The report draws from three papers in the journals Nature Climate Change, Environmental Research Letters and Earth System Science Data Discussions. “This is very disappointing,” Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, said in a statement. “We need to reach a peak in global emissions in the next few years and drive emissions down rapidly afterwards to address climate change and limit its impacts.”

Thousands March To Keep Coal In Ground Ahead Of Climate Summit

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By Staff of Tele Sur – Implementation of the Paris accord will be discussed at the 195-nation climate meeting in Bonn between November 6 and 17. Thousands of people took to the streets of Bonn on Saturday to call for the phasing out of coal as a source of power ahead of global talks on climate change in the German city next week. The issue of whether to end coal production has been one of the main sticking points in coalition negotiations between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her would-be allies: the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP). Organizers of the march called for the German government to implement the 2015 Paris plan to shift the world economy away from reliance on fossil fuels this century.

To Close Climate Goals Gap: Drop Coal, Ramp Up Renewables

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By Georgina Gustin for Inside Climate News – Countries will have to phase out coal and invest in renewable energy even faster than previously expected to keep global warming below perilous levels and fend off the most dangerous impacts of climate change, according to a United Nations report released just before the next round of international climate talks. The United Nations Environment Program on Tuesday released its annual report on the “emissions gap”—the distance between countries’ pledged commitments for meeting the targets of the 2015 Paris climate agreement and the pathways that scientists estimate could actually achieve those targets. The report, prepared by dozens of scientists and incorporating the latest scientific findings, includes new information to help negotiators zero in on more ambitious commitments that might achieve the Paris Agreement’s most stringent target: keeping the rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius since the start of the industrial era. “The overarching conclusions of the report are that there is an urgent need for accelerated short-term action and enhanced longer-term national ambition, if the goals of the Paris Agreement are to remain achievable,” the report says. “And that practical and cost-effective options are available to make this possible.” In other words, the world’s countries need to get moving—and fast. But there’s hope.

State Denies Key Water Quality Permit For Longview Coal Project

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By Jan Hasselman for Earth Justice – The Washington Department of Ecology denied a necessary water quality permit for the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export facility in Longview today, citing the project’s negative impacts on climate, clean air and water. Absent a successful legal challenge to the decision, the denial renders the project formally dead. If built, Millennium would have been the largest coal export facility in North America, sending up to 44 million tons of Powder River and Uinta Basin coal per year to Asian markets that are quickly turning away from coal-fired power. The state’s own analysis, found that the climate pollution from this project would be equivalent to adding 8 million cars to the road at a time when our changing climate is contributing to catastrophic forest fires and stronger hurricanes. Millennium would also add up to sixteen trains a day traveling between the Powder River Basin and Longview, tying up traffic and impacting public safety response times in rail communities across the Pacific Northwest and contributing to higher rates of cancer in low-income communities, including Longview’s Highlands neighborhood.

After Generations Working In Coal, Young West Virginians Are Finding Jobs In Solar

Solar Holler founder Dan Conant, foreground, looks on at the beginning of a solar roof installation in Lewisburg, West Virginia.  Credit: Jason Margolis

By Jason Margolis for PRI – Nobody from his graduating class is working in coal, says Swiger. “[They’re] honestly working in fast food, or not working at all.” Not Swiger. He has a job installing rooftop solar panels. He says his family is delighted with it. “They’re excited that I’m actually doing something different,” says Swiger. “A lot of people ain’t doing this in West Virginia, a lot of people are against it actually. A lot of people want to go back to coal. “I ain’t against it, I love solar. It’s way better than coal, I think.” Solar panels can save people money on their electricity bills and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, which fuel climate change. With battery storage, found in some home set-ups, solar can also allow people to continue to power their homes off the grid during power outages. Swiger is working as an apprentice with Solar Holler, which was founded four years ago by 32-year-old Dan Conant. Conant doesn’t see solar energy and coal at odds with each other. “The way I think about it, as a West Virginian, is that West Virginia has always been an energy state, and this is just the next step. It’s the next iteration,” says Conant. West Virginia’s economy has long been reliant on coal. Metallurgical coal, which is found in the state, is used in the steel-making process.

Navajo Solar Plant To Replace Coal Plant

From apnews.com

By Staff of the Associated Press – FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A giant array of solar panels near the famed sandstone buttes of Monument Valley has begun producing electricity for the Navajo Nation at a time when the tribe is bracing for the loss of hundreds of jobs from the impending closure of a nearby coal-fired power plant. The Kayenta Solar Facility is the first utility-scale solar project on the Navajo Nation, producing enough electricity to power about 13,000 Navajo homes. The plant comes at a time when the area’s energy landscape is shifting. The coal-fired Navajo Generating Station near Page is set to close in December 2019, leaving a site that both tribal and private entities say has potential for renewable energy development. The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, which owns the solar plant, said the project advances clean energy on the reservation long known for fossil fuel development, the Arizona Daily Sun reported. Walter Haase, general manager of the tribal utility, said the plant proves to investors, developers and tribal communities that renewable energy projects are possible on the reservation.

Citizens Begin Reclaiming Coal Country After Decades Of Corporate Land Grabs

The Appalachian Citizen’s Law Center recently found it would cost more than $9.6 billion to reclaim the 6.2 million acres of lands and waters of abandoned and polluted mine sites.

Photo of West Virginia mountaintop by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images.

By Emma Eisenberg for Yes! Magazine – “Land is the most important thing to us, yet it’s not clear at all who owns it,” says Karen Rignall, assistant professor of community and leadership development at the University of Kentucky. “Without broad-scale knowledge of the patterns of land ownership this region cannot work together to move forward. But who owns it on paper is not always who owns it in actuality. That takes time and money to find out.” The coal industry of central Appalachia has been on the decline for more than 30 years, with West Virginia and Kentucky losing more than 38,000 coal jobs in that time. As coal companies pulled out, they took with them the dollars that small towns used to use to fund their schools and infrastructure, and left behind abandoned mines, polluted rivers and vast swaths of vacant land. All over Appalachia, communities and organizations are working around the clock to come up with a way to “justly transition” the Appalachian economy to whatever comes next. Rignall and postdoctoral researcher Lindsay Shade are collaborating with a growing group of citizens that think a part of the answer to a post-coal economy may lie with an old land ownership study—and have been inspired by it to do a new one.

Coastal Communities Sue 37 Oil, Gas And Coal Companies Over Climate Change

Lawsuits filed by two coastal California counties and a city argue that fossil fuel companies named in the lawsuits knew greenhouse gas emissions had a significant impact on the climate and sea levels and "concealed the dangers." Credit: David McNew/Getty Images

By Georgina Gustin for Inside Climate News – Two California counties and a city are suing 37 fossil fuel companies, accusing them of knowingly emitting dangerous greenhouse gases that have contributed to global warming that threatens their communities with sea level rise. It won’t be an easy case to make, legal experts say, but it’s drawing the interest of private attorneys who see enough potential to take it on. Marin and San Mateo counties, near San Francisco, and the city of Imperial Beach, south of San Diego, filed the new lawsuits in California Superior Court on Monday against Exxon, Shell and 35 other oil, gas and coal companies. Their lawsuits accuse the companies of having known, for nearly five decades, “that greenhouse gas pollution from their fossil fuel products had a significant impact on the Earth’s climate and sea levels.” They say the companies’ “awareness of the negative implications of their behavior corresponds” with rising greenhouse gas emissions. Together, the lawsuits say, the companies were responsible for roughly 20 percent of total emissions from 1965 to 2015. The lawsuits contend that the companies “concealed the dangers, sought to undermine public support for greenhouse gas regulation, and engaged in massive campaigns to promote the ever-increasing use of their products at ever greater volumes.”

Climate Activists Crashed Global Insurance Meeting To Demand Exit From Coal Companies

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By Peter Bosshard for Alternet – By divesting from coal companies, insurers can fulfill their basic mission: to protect us from catastrophic risk. Climate activists brought their message that insurance companies need to stop supporting coal projects to a global meeting of insurance CEOs in San Francisco. On June 15, activists interrupted the opening session of the CEO gathering at the Ritz Carlton Hotel and raised a banner that read, “The World’s Best Insurance? Keeping Coal in the Ground.” The banner display was part of a series of climate protests welcoming the insurance CEOs, who met in San Francisco at the invitation of the Geneva Association, an insurance think-tank. A letter was also sent to the individual CEOs, calling for them to move away from coal and invest in renewables. Then, on the following day, activists conveyed their message with a public rally of insurance mascots to greet the CEOs, and circled the executives’ closing dinner at a landmark hotel tower with a plane displaying the message, “Insurers: Unfriend Coal Now.”

Georgia Town Fights Becoming Coal Ash Dumping Ground

Sandra and Jerry Sloan, who run Sloan's Wild Game Processing, live less than a mile from the Broadhurst landfill. “I figured with the money that was involved, it would go on through,” Jerry Sloan said. “I think all the people against it, fighting to keep it out of here is what stopped it.” Credit: Georgina Gustin

By Georgina Gustin for Inside Climate News – When news spread that Republic Services planned to dump trainloads of toxic coal ash in a local landfill, citizens, led by the local newspaper, fought—and won. JESUP, Georgia—Peggy Riggins remembers standing against the wall of a windowless meeting room on a January day last year. Dozens of people sat in folding chairs, others crowded the aisles and more packed the hallway outside, tilting their heads to hear. The Wayne County commissioners were unaccustomed to a big audience. But over the previous weeks, the local newspaper had uncovered plans by an out-of-town waste hauler to expand a rail line leading to the community’s landfill. County residents were getting more and more concerned with each story. This new rail spur would enable the company—later found to be Republic Services, a $9-billion firm based in Phoenix whose biggest shareholder is Microsoft’s Bill Gates—to haul 10,000 tons of toxic coal ash through the county’s swampy forestlands and into the dump every day. Riggins, like a lot of her neighbors, had never thought much about the Broadhurst Environmental Landfill, as it is formally known, and had barely heard of coal ash. But as the news unfolded, Wayne County learned that it could become one of the biggest coal ash dumping grounds in the South, thanks to a loophole in federal regulations.

EPA Spreads Misinformation About Coal, Climate & Paris Agreement

Some of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's most misleading statements had to do with the Paris climate agreement. Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

By Marianne Lavelle for Inside Climate News – EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has spread a lot of misinformation in defending President Trump’s plan to exit the Paris climate agreement. Here’s a reality check. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has thrown around plenty of figures in his spirited defense of President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Paris climate agreement. But many of them are just plain wrong. An EPA spokesperson did admit that Pruitt “misspoke” in his claim, repeated multiple times, that 50,000 coal jobs had been created since the fourth quarter of 2016, after the number was debunked by The Washington Post, USA Today, Politifact and others. Coal mining currently only has about 50,000 jobs, total, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But some of Pruitt’s most misleading statements had to do with the Paris agreement itself. Here are just a few:

Rover Pipeline: Climate Disaster Equal To 42 Coal Plants

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By Kelly Trout for Oil Change International – As controversy swirls around a string of spills and air and water violations caused by Energy Transfer Partners’ construction of the Rover gas pipeline, a study released today underlines another reason federal regulators should halt the project: It will fuel a massive increase in climate pollution. A new analysis by Oil Change International finds that, if the Rover Pipeline is built, it will cause as much greenhouse gas pollution as 42 coal-fired power plants – some 145 million metric tons per year. The study slams the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for using chronically outdated assumptions to sweep this significant climate impact under the rug in its environmental review of the project. “As the biggest new pipeline being built to carry fracked gas out of the Appalachian Basin, the Rover Pipeline is the biggest climate disaster of them all,” said Lorne Stockman, senior research analyst at Oil Change International and the lead author of the study. “After Trump’s malicious pullout from the Paris climate accord, challenging each new pipeline is all the more important. While FERC remains in a state of denial, it’s increasingly clear that gas pipelines are a bridge to climate destruction.

Let’s Face It: The Coal Industry Is a Job Killer

Flickr/ Aqua Mechanical

By Basav Sen for Other Words – Wind and solar could create many, many more jobs than coal — especially if the government stops propping it up. When Donald Trump announced he was rolling back the Obama administration’s signature climate rules this spring, he invited coal miners to share the limelight with him. He promised this would end the so-called “war on coal” and bring mining jobs back to coal country. He was dead wrong on both counts. Trump has blamed the prior administration’s Clean Power Plan for the loss of coal jobs. But there’s an obvious problem with this claim: The plan hasn’t even gone into effect! Repealing it will do nothing to reverse the worldwide economic and technological forces driving the decline of the coal industry. And the problem is global. As concern rises over carbon dioxide, more and more countries are turning away from coal. U.S. coal exports are down, and coal plant construction is slowing the world over — even as renewables become cheaper and more widespread. To really bring back coal jobs, Trump would have to wish these trends away — along with technological automation and natural gas, which have taken a much bigger bite out of coal jobs than any regulation.

UK Set For First Coal-Free Work Day Since Pre-Industrial Times

Drax, the UK's biggest coal power station, has converted to partly run on biomass (Flickr/Jonathan Brennan)

By Megan Darby for Climate Home – Three old coal plants closed last year, while surging renewables, cheap gas and a carbon price make the remaining power stations less viable. A halving of coal use in 2016 was the main driver of a 5.8% fall in UK carbon dioxide emissions, according to Carbon Brief analysis of official data. The government has pledged to end coal burning by 2025, subject to consultation. Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace UK, said the day should be noted by politicians fighting over who will lead the UK through the next stage of its energy transition. “A decade ago, a day without coal would have been unimaginable, and in ten years’ time our energy system will have radically transformed again,” she said. “It is a clear message to any new government that they should prioritise making the UK a world leader in clean, green, technology. They will need to get on with the coal phase-out plan and recognise the economic potential of renewable energy and energy efficiency. We can meet the UK’s needs for skilled jobs and fair bills, whilst also meeting our climate targets.” Britain is phasing out coal faster than some European neighbours like Germany, helped by a surcharge of £18 a tonne of CO2 ($23) on top of the €5 ($5) EU market price.